Monday, 4 July 2011

Hippopotamuses and Showers



I find it hilarious the way Gilby acquires words, even faster and more furiously than his big sister did. The trouble with this incredible speed of language acquisition is that he occasionally gets it very, very wrong. I have tried to research this a little bit, but it is too scholarly and statistical for me, so I'm going with my own theories.

Apparently, when I was very small, I came rushing in to my parents' room very earnestly declaring that there was a 'hippot-mus in Teesy's bedoom'. Teesy was my name for myself, and I clearly struggled with 'r's. My parents were not convinced. Why would they be? In a second floor flat somewhere in north London, the appearance of this massive sub-Saharan African mammal would indeed have been most unlikely. But I was insistent. Very. Kept on repeating my claim. When they still wouldn't believe me I went to prove my case. I came back in with my tiny fist clenched. "Hippot-mus...HERE!" Upon opening up my hand I cried with pain as the wasp stung me. Quite how I had made the synaptic connection between the word 'hippopotamus' and the reality of a yellow, stripy, stinging thing is beyond me.

Gilby has repeated this feat, though with so far less painful consequences. He has inherited a toy-garage, one with a multi-storey car-lift. It is very exciting when you are not quite two. Except that, inexplicably, he insists on calling it a 'shower'.

Meanwhile, Gertie's current favourite programme is 'Little Bear'. At the start of each episode the episode's title appears, and being right on the cusp of reading it flashes up too quickly for her to decipher it, but she recognises some of the words and is always interested in what it is. "What does that say, Mummy?" she will inevitably ask.

Gilby has cottoned on to this, and must assume that it means 'what is that?', for now, when he doesn't know the name of something he will point at it and ask, "What does that say, Mummy?" just like his sister. Perhaps in some confused, mush-brained moment he asked me what his garage 'said' and I suggested a shower. Who knows?

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